Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


Mock Draft Roundup: The Mac Jones-to-49ers Chatter is Deafening

Justin Wong
Apr 7, 2021 at 3:18 PM7


The 2021 NFL Draft is a three-day event from April 29th to May 1st that will be hosted in Cleveland, Ohio. A select number of draft prospects will be invited to Cleveland to walk across the stage and shake hands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The NFL Draft will also feature draft prospects participating remotely across the country.

Last month, the 49ers arguably made their most aggressive move since trading Joe Montana, as they gave up multiple picks to jump from No. 12 to No. 3 in this year's NFL Draft. The first Mock Draft Roundup featured primarily defensive players but NFL pundits have now shifted their 49ers mock drafts to the quarterback position. Last week's Mock Draft Roundup was a pick your poison scenario, in which experts weighed Trey Lance of North Dakota State, Mac Jones of Alabama, or Justin Field of Ohio State as the 49ers' future quarterback. Heading into today, it seems like the chatter has shifted towards Jones as the consensus pick. As shown in its recent Quarterback Roundtable discussion, the 49ers' Webzone Staff remains heavily in favor of Fields.


Below is a mock draft roundup with three weeks remaining until the actual NFL Draft. Each week, I'll pull up several recent mock drafts from various outlets and will give an analysis on the pick along with my personal take.


Todd McShay, ESPN
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

The Niners sacrificed first-rounders over the next two years and then some to skip the line. Which player did they do it for? Coach Kyle Shanahan surely has his guy in mind already, and it's going to be a QB -- teams don't make these types of massive early deals for non-QBs. I'm hearing a lot of noise about Jones being the 49ers' preference. He is accurate and reads the field so well, which helps assuage mobility concerns. Plus, he excels when passing in the pocket or off play-action, two staples of Shanahan's system. San Francisco paid a hefty price, but quarterback was in need of an upgrade. Now it just has to hope it selects the right one.

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

I'm not surprised San Francisco traded up to No. 3. I am surprised that everything you hear points toward Jones being the Niners' pick at No. 3.

We can all agree that the trade-up now puts the 49ers in a position to draft a quarterback. ESPN's Todd McShay and NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah are some of the more respected draft experts in the industry, which only amplifies the media chatter about Jones being the pick. If McShay and Jeremiah are now indicating that Jones will be the 49ers' future quarterback...it does make you wonder. As the saying goes, "where there's smoke, there's fire." Then again, when have the 49ers started leaking news like this? Instead of an actual fire, could it be an NFL Draft smokescreen?


Ben Standig, The Athletic
The pick: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Ideal pick: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Based on the reporting and reaction following the 49ers' recent blockbuster trade up to No. 3, the sense is 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan covets Jones' anticipation in the passing game and his apparent NFL readiness. Others can see Lance working in Shanahan's system and being a player with the requisite high ceiling to justify the hefty trade price. Logically, the 2019 NFC champions are aiming to contend again following an injury-ravaged season, which means letting any rookie quarterback watch and learn. That's in play with Jimmy Garoppolo on the team. Although Garoppolo and Lance make for a sharp short- and long-term pairing, the 49ers' interest in Jones seems sincere.

Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Could the 49ers be targeting Trey Lance or Justin Fields here? Absolutely. But Mac Jones also fits what Kyle Shanahan looks for in a QB. And while Jones has a higher floor than the other available QBs, he's also just started 17 career games, which means he has plenty of room for improvement.

These takes by CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson and The Athletic's Ben Standig resonate with many 49ers fans. The constant media chatter is pointing towards Jones as the pick--even if the actual preference would be another prospect like Lance or Fields. I've already gone on at length with my own personal preference of Fields over Jones, as, overall, I'd rather have a prospect with a higher ceiling for growth versus a high floor candidate. With the same number of career starts as Jones, I'd rather have the more athletic prospect in Lance. It would be a confusing narrative to trade so aggressively into the No. 3 spot only to choose the safer prospect--while the other quarterbacks have the potential for stardom.

Mike Tannenbaum, Former NFL General Manager
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

I see Jones as very similar to Matt Ryan, whom Kyle Shanahan had a lot of success with in his Atlanta days. He is an accurate thrower and processes quickly, and I think he's a better mover than most give him credit. And I love his closing statement on the 2020 season, throwing 14 touchdowns over his last three games en route to a national title. North Dakota State's Trey Lance was also in the mix, but it's too risky for my blood to trade all those picks to move up this high to invest in a quarterback who played just one game since 2019 and zero in his career against FBS competition.

One thing to know: In 2020, Jones led the FBS with 4,500 passing yards and set the NCAA all-time mark for completion percentage (77.4%).

Mike Tannenbaum is a long-time NFL executive who served as the New York Jets general manager from 2006-2012. He sees Jones as the Shanahan quarterback archetype, and thus the 49ers' pick at No. 3 because Jones compares well to Matt Ryan. My counter-argument? What exactly is the "Shanahan quarterback"? The most successful pocket quarterbacks picked early, including Ryan and Rams' Matthew Stafford, who went in the top-five of the 2008 and 2009 NFL Drafts, respectively, were selected over a decade ago. The 49ers play the likes of the Cardinals' Kyler Murray and the Seahawks' Russell Wilson twice a year and have seen firsthand what the new-age quarterbacks look like in the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes and the Bills' Josh Allen.

Ben Linsey, Pro Football Focus
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Unlike New York's decision with the second overall pick, I think there is a "right" selection here, assuming Lawrence and Wilson come off the board with the first two picks.

Fields' game has been put under the microscope over the past several weeks to the point where there are people — including NFL executives — looking for faults that aren't there. Fields earned a 90.0-plus PFF grade in each of the past two years as Ohio State's starter and an 85.0-plus grade in each of the Buckeyes' two playoff games this past season. That production comes along with high-end athletic traits, accuracy and arm talent.
That's the profile of a quarterback that teams should trade multiple first-round picks to move up and secure.

Out of this week's round of mock drafts, Pro Football Focus' Ben Linsey is the only one who remains strong on Fields being the pick for the San Francisco 49ers. NFL executives have gone so far as to question Fields' work ethic in recent weeks. However, in terms of the PFF grade metrics, Fields has been a superior talent year-over-year during his time at Ohio State University. In terms of potential, if Jones offers the highest floor while Lance offers the highest ceiling, a blend of the two elements can be found in Fields. Rest assured, we still have plenty of time to mull over every move the 49ers' office front office will make in anticipation of the 2021 NFL Draft. With Fields scheduled for a second pro day on April 14th, that date might be another important one for 49ers fans to clamor towards...

  • Justin Wong
  • Written by:
    Justin Wong has been writing for the 49ers Webzone since 2017 while also running an NFC West blog and podcast called Just The West. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to @JustTheWest on Twitter.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


7 Comments

  • Proboed
    Rob's comments have a number of good points..only problem I see is the choice of taking Fields isn't the easiest or best candidate to work with for transitioning into Shany's system. Here's the thing: Fields has never primarily worked worked under center or in scheme similar to Shany's. For any QB and the supporting personnel you have for him, it takes hard work and time to form such a cohesive group. The skill set for supporting Fields type of play is not whats on the Niners roster right now. Shany would have to change the scheme and play-calling and the supportive personnel to use for Fields. Fields style of play is holding the ball for around 4 sec in the pocket while Shany's current scheme wants the QB to get the ball out around 2-2.5 sec. Everything would need to change for Shany to accommodate taking Fields. The play here is to take Lance who has primarily played under center, who is a mixture of taking the positive elements from Fields and Jones that fit Shany's system.
    Apr 8, 2021 at 10:14 AM
    0
    Response: Agreed, Lance is the most accustomed to a Shanahan-style offense--he's also the least accurate out of the group.
  • Rob
    Here's my two cents. If Kyle wanted a pocket passer so badly, why didn't they just make a better deal for Matthew Stafford? Stafford is way better than Jones and would not have cost as much. I think there is zero chance Jones is the choice. this whole Kyle had success with Matt Ryan angle is so stupid. Did he have another choice while in Atlanta? He had tremendous success with RGIII in Washington. I think he has watched Wilson and Murray terrorize his defense for years now and wants the same. The jet sweeps with Deebo and Aiyuk will be that much more impactful when a defense is worried about the QB keeping the ball and running. I think Fields is 100% the choice at pick 3.
    Apr 8, 2021 at 5:53 AM
    0
    Response: I hope you're right! I don't mind eating crow by sticking with Fields
  • Jeff Hunt
    If it were mac Jones, then no. I'd take a generational talent in Sewell, play him at RT, move Mcglinchey to RG, then take Mond or Mills. Maybe Trask, if that's you're preference. I'm not sold on Jones at all. I'd rather take Fields, who is just as accurate, just as, if not so more, intelligent, and a much better athlete at #3 if I'd to take a QB there
    Apr 8, 2021 at 2:59 AM
    0
    Response: I'm quite confident they've gone out of their way to trade up for a quarterback. Hopefully, it's not Mac Jones but they've cemented themselves to go quarterback at the No. 3 spot.
  • Proboed
    For those who mentioned Montana and Brady. What 3 QB's have the most SB rings: Brady; Montana; and Bradshaw...and yes none of them were even close to being considered the most athletic QB of the league in their time. Mahomes shouldn't even be in the narrative with 1 SB ring. Now, there could be 1 outlier scenario thinking that Shany might do to 'not' go with Jones. First: he keeps Jimmy G (or a trade/swap with another QB of greater production in Shany's system = because that QB would have to be already familiar with it...that means Cousins or Ryan) = in Shany's mind. Second: Shany and Niners have to totally buy-out the view that either Sudfield or Rosen are sufficient to back-up the starting QB (not rookie draft pick starter). This is a huge expectation IMO because they have to buy the idea Sud or Rosen can take them to the SB and win. IMO, not likely, but...it's possible. Thus, with the above the rookie pick is for a future/franchise QB that Shany can mold exactly the way he wants (vs inheriting as all the others have been. Griffin was a draft picked by WFT owner not the Shanahan's) to be the future/franchise SF QB. In this scenario, that pick would be Lance.
    Apr 7, 2021 at 8:56 PM
    0
    Response: Under the scenario that the 49ers keep Garoppolo, I can see Lance being the pick
  • Jeff Hunt
    No to Jones. Pro quality lineman and two top 15 picks bin wide outs to throw to. Its easy to put up big numbers when you've all day to throw and wide open receivers. Id take Sewell at 3 and Mond/Mills in the 2nd round over Jones myself
    Apr 7, 2021 at 8:37 PM
    0
    Response: You would trade all that draft capital and NOT get a quarterback?
  • Daniners
    First, stop with the pocket passer nonsense. Every QB, not named Lamar Jackson, who will never win a SB because he isn't one, is a pocket passer. Mahomes ran a 4.8. He's just mobile enough to make some plays with his legs, but explosive, hell no. Almost every QB that has one a SB (period!) is pocket passer. Shit, between Montana and Brady, they won 10 alone. Mac Jones has the best tape far and away. Tape don't lie. 40 times do, workout warriors do, not tape. Trust the tape. Mac Jones will be better than Matt Ryan. Mark that down. He has a better arm and is actually more athletic. Wait until he gets trainer to slim him up ala Brady. Then he'll look like a little Peyton Manning out there. yeah, very similar when you watch their tapes. Not pretty, but effective.
    Apr 7, 2021 at 6:37 PM
    0
    Response: For the 49ers' fan base, I hope you're right! The Athletic's Ted Nguyen wrote an excellent film analysis of Mac Jones if you want to check it out: https://theathletic.com/2448030/2021/04/02/mac-jones-film-analysis-not-overly-athletic-his-arms-not-elite-but-hes-an-excellent-pocket-passer/
  • jt
    Have to acknowledge the elephant in the room.., Jones is a Montana,Manning,Brady kind of guy....not an athletic freak, but a smart one. All the great ones had that attribute Jones IS the man..,.,Fields ???? .....no way. Don't want to state the obvious, but........
    Apr 7, 2021 at 5:24 PM
    0
    Response: Comparing Jones--or any rookie prospect--to HOF quarterbacks usually doesn't bode well. What makes you think Fields can't be "the man"?

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